EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS


Canadian Government to Challenge Amazon’s Spreading of Software/BM Patents, Which Red Hat Wants Abolished and Microsoft Still Collects

Posted in America, Law, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat at 5:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Canadian flag

Summary: Events in Canada may mean that USPTO expansion is hindered somewhat and Microsoft’s patent attack on GNU/Linux can be affected

PROFESSOR Michael Geist says that Sookman says that “The Canadian government appeals the Amazon.com decision regarding the patentability of business methods.” For those who have not followed this case, see [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. If true, this is good news. But Sookman is one of the ‘bad people’ when it comes to Canadian copyright law; it makes him harder to trust in some ways. It’s what one ought to expect from so-called ‘IP’ lawyers. To them, there’s money at stake. There are hardly any exceptions here. One of the latest examples is Patent WatchTroll, a software patents proponent (because he makes money from them as a lawyer) whining about Europe’s unwillingness to become more like the USPTO [1, 2].

One of the few ‘good’ patent lawyers, Rob Tiller (Red Hat), is now asking: “Is software too abstract to be patented?”

A big challenge for those facing the risk of being accused of infringing bad software patents is how to demonstrate that the patent is an abstract idea. The Bilski decision reaffirmed that abstract ideas are not patentable, but it didn’t give a test for how to distinguish such abstract ideas. There are various possible paths on this. The Supreme Court has said that mathematical algorithms are not patentable, and Ben Klemens [PDF] and others have argued that software is at bottom indistinguishable from mathematical algorithms. Others have fashioned related arguments leading toward the conclusion that at least some software is too abstract to be patented. Some of the analysis of PoIR on GrokLaw is particularly interesting: Why software is abstract and An Open Response to the USPTO — Physical Aspects of Mathematics.

This is a discussion that needs to continue. I hope FOSS developers and others with deep knowledge of software technology will get involved. We need to get to a convincing explanation in terms that non-technical people (such as judges and juries) can understand of the nature of software and why it is at bottom an abstract idea. Anyone care to take a swing?

Red Hat was recently hit by the Microsoft-funded Acacia and signed a secret deal. Amazon is now paying Microsoft for Red Hat, due to the secret Microsoft patent deal and Amazon’s awkward stance on software patents. Microsoft meanwhile “applies for a patent for [...] verifying a ‘safe’ operating system,” says one Microsoft booster (Mary Jo Foley).

Microsoft has applied for a patent for an “automated, static safety verifier” that will help verify the type- and memory-safety of an operating system.

And why should anyone care? This isn’t the Monkeys coming to Zune, after all. But there are some connections to other Microsoft projects (and potentially, products) worth considering.

This patent is abstract and absurd, but do not expect the author to say it. As a Microsoft employee put it a couple of weeks ago, “Mary Jo does not [do real journalism] and that’s why she gets interviews at Microsoft” (she did admit to me that this is the way it works, at least back when she was more gutsy).

RAND Mobbyists, Lobbyists, and Microsoft AstroTurfers in IP 2010 (Brussels)

Posted in Deception, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Patents, RAND at 5:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Rand Pauls of RAND

Rand Paul portrait by Gage Skidmore
Photo by Gage Skidmore

Summary: Rough tactics used to promote Microsoft’s scheme wherein Free software gets taxed by Microsoft, even in places like Europe where software patents are in principle not legal

THE CONSENSUS that Microsoft is decreasingly a technology company (far fewer products) and increasingly a patent troll and political movement is gradually getting a foothold. As more and more Microsoft products get axed, the company will qualify as a patent troll (non-practicing entity) in more areas where it’s just extorting its competition which won.

In order for Microsoft to become more effective as a patent troll, Microsoft will need to modify some laws. Microsoft cannot do this directly as it would get blasted for attempting it. So Microsoft hires and bankrolls several front groups that do he lobbying. We wrote well over a hundred posts giving examples of this type of activity as we hope to document and to map the vectors of lobbying (which in turn weakens them or sometimes forces them to nymshift).

The Microsoft agenda du jour is pushing RAND into Europe. Microsoft apparently failed to do this in India. Simon Phipps, a Brit, has just explained why RAND is “Not So Reasonable”. It’s a decent new essay on this old subject:

Fair, Reasonable, Non-Discriminatory – surely that all has to be good stuff? RAND sounds so good, and it’s been showing up in all sorts of news lately. It’s a key part in the negotiation of licenses for patents that apply to standards, and it stands for “Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory”, excellent words that it’s hard to criticise. Sometimes it shows up as FRAND, with “Fair” in front making it sound even better, or as RAND-z, with the Z indicating that whatever the license terms are they will have a zero pounds price ticket attached.

RAND appears in the rules and procedures of most standards organisations and actually does a great job in most of them. It’s far better than the alternative, which is for patent holders to be able to either license their patents at whatever price each victim will pay, or to make the standard almost impossible to implement by anyone they don’t want to be able to by selectively withholding a license. You can understand why a standards group would want to mandate RAND, FRAND or RAND-z, given the alternatives.

Of course, there is the obvious question of why any standards body would allow something to become a standard in the first place if one of the companies contributing to it holds a patent on a technique essential to implementing it.

Simon Phipps tells Carlo Piana (another person who stands for Europe’s interests, not Microsoft’s): “Want to make any bets on how long it will be before I get a troll comment?”

Well, guess what? Yes, it didn’t take long for mobbyist Microsoft Florian to hit this piece with a troll comment promoting RAND, as usual. His position on this subject is virtually identical to that of Microsoft lobbyist Zuck (and his fellow minions). How predictable it must have been for Simon Phipps. He probably knew exactly who it would be with the “troll comment”. Just mention RAND and this mobbyist will soon show up. Just about any piece against RAND is being heckled/trolled by Microsoft mobbyists other than him, but that’s what we ought to expect given the billions of dollars Microsoft has at stake. Professionally speaking, Florian is all about Microsoft (.NET developer, never using GNU/Linux, proudly using Vista 7 while pretending to be a FOSS person who opposes software patents). We’ll come to more of that in a moment.

“RAND describes a superset of behaviours. Some RAND requirements lead to RF terms. The existence of trivial counterexamples where RAND standards have GPL implementations allows trolls to thus discredit this position.”
      –Simon Phipps
Glyn Moody gets involved in this debate as well (in Identi.ca). He tells Bradley Kuhn (FSF) for example: “generally, yes, but it [RAND] an be crafted in abnormal ways to be compatible.” Kuhn does not quite agree. To Phipps he writes: “I may have misread. My take-away was: “sometimes, #RAND works out for FLOSS, but usually doesn’t.” I don’t agree w/ nuance.” To Phipps and Moody he later writes: “It’s tough to get FLOSS hackers to follow patent licensing nuances, so simplifications help, ala “#RAND = #problematic” [...] my 1st yr CS teacher said: “We must lie a little here” b/c the nuances required prereqs we didn’t have. Similar here.” Phipps tells Kuhn: “RAND describes a superset of behaviours. Some RAND requirements lead to RF terms. The existence of trivial counterexamples where RAND standards have GPL implementations allows trolls to thus discredit this position.”

The mobbyist has already resumed badmouthing Android, spreading misinformation about a Vertical lawsuit against Samsung and LG (he closed all the comments in his blog after he had been exposed repeatedly by commenters, so nobody can correct him where he leads journalists whom he mass-mails). He characterises it as an anti-Android lawsuit even though it is slightly more complex than that. But never mind accuracy. The mobbyists are supposed to confuse people who don’t know better, making absurd statements that may capture gullible bystanders who curiously pass by.

Watch what the mobbyist did with Nancy Gohring, who covers a lot of Microsoft since years ago. She took this one assignment/story for IDG and was possibly fed by one of Florian’s pseudo-personal E-mails (he personalises identical messages which he pushes to many journalists while presenting himself as an opponent of software patents). Gohring wrote:

Android faces a new threat with a lawsuit that Vertical Computer Systems filed Monday against Samsung and LG.

Vertical alleges that certain Samsung and LG Android-based phones infringe two of its patents that describe systems for generating applications. In the suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Vertical names the LG Ally, four Samsung Galaxy models and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab tablet computer as products that use the patented technologies.

She is then linking to the mobbyist, who is mass-mailing journalists to get his version of the story told (and it’s Linux-hostile). We don’t know for sure if Gohring was fed by the mobbyist, by judging by the way it is written (with his own fake introduction to himself), it’s very likely to be the case. He is still pretending that he is against software patents because this is how a lobbyist should present himself to journalists (for credibility, even if it’s bogus, like fronting for a monopoly while pretending to speak for small businesses). We do not appreciate his active-aggressive approach towards journalists, wherein he pressures them (with unsolicited mail for the most part) to get his version of the story told, then brags about it as though he was spontaneously quoted for being more accurate or insightful. Then again, that’s just how lobbyists in general work. ACT works like this. They are media subvertors, who try to sway public opinion. The mobbyist also copies and pastes a lot, posting identical or nearly identical comments in many sites and forums such as Slashdot, Ars Technica, and LWN. As usual, he received aid from Dana Blankenhorn, whom he met some weeks ago. Blankenhorn mentions us in a negative way because he refuses to listen to many other FOSS proponents who repeatedly explain to him Florian’s agenda. He should read his comments more carefully and reflect. Maybe one day he’ll realise and admit that he got bamboozled.

Anyway, not only the mobbyists are actively promoting RAND right now. Watch this new schedule for IP 2010 and scroll down to ACT, the RAND lobbyists (with software patents inside). Under “6C Software Patents, Open Source” we found “Jonathan Zuck”, who pretends to stand for Belgium (who is he kidding really?).

Glyn Moody says that “EC & EPO want to explore “tensions” between ICT standards and patents” (in reference to this). He rightly asks (in Identi.ca), “isn’t it decided?”

You can tell just by its framing: this is “a conference to address some specific issues on patents and ICT standards”. ICT is mostly about software, and yet software cannot be patented “as such”. So, in a sense, this ought to be a trivial conference lasting about five minutes. The fact that it isn’t shows where things are going to head: towards accepting and promoting patents in European standards, including those for software.

That’s not really surprising, given who are organising it – the European Commission and the European Patent Office (EPO). The European Commission has always been a big fan of software patents; and the EPO is hardly likely to be involved with a conference that says: “you know, we *really* don’t need all these patents in our standards.”

Of course, the opposite result – that patents are so indescribably yummy that we need to have as many as possible in our European ICT standards – must emerge naturally and organically. And so to ensure that natural and organic result, we have a few randomly-selected companies taking part.

This sort of fake debate (like the one we find in climate change) is summoning the fake controversy which the mobbyists and lobbyists work so hard to create. They want to distract with questions which ought to be trivial and instead put disinformation at the centre of it all.

Why Windows Phone 7 Shows That Windows in General is Collapsing

Posted in Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, Vista, Vista 7, Windows at 3:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Vista 7 is unsuitable for form factors that customers increasingly adopt

WINDOWS is not doing well. Don’t believe the spinners. When it comes to profit, the numbers not only declined over the years; these turn out to be faked figures, too (the rest of the revenue comes from squeezing the goose, inflation, forced ‘upgrades’ and so on). Even Microsoft is now admitting that Windows has an innovator’s dilemma-type crisis. It just doesn’t scale, not even Vista 7 which Microsoft claims to be lighter than Vista (how inappropriate a basis for comparison).

According to this Microsoft booster, Vista 7 is too heavy for tablets. It’s implicit and subtle. By saying that Vista Phony 7 [sic] might be needed for tablets, Microsoft inadvertently admits that Vista 7 is too fat.

If Vista Phony 7 [sic] is Microsoft’s plan for the future, then no wonder we saw more and more people saying that Ballmer is already on the exit chair, awaiting ejection (and it won’t be Ballmer setting off this chair). As my colleague and friend Tim puts it, what Microsoft says is not reality and even its PR is suffering a lot this month. Examples are being given, including some from the overly-hyped KINect:

Today I thought that I would present a list of articles/links which hardly put Microsoft in the same light as its PR agents and boosters would want you to know.


Can Microsoft compete with the Nintendo with Kinect? – On the basis of this and other reports around the net, I wouldn’t think so.


It also seems Microsoft advocates/boosters will tell you that demand has it sold out. This doesn’t appear to be the case and at time of writing HMV had these in stock. Maybe Microsoft is trying to generate some interest? Maybe Kinect sales are suffering with the same type of lag that the device reports to have (as per the BBC Click review) . Maybe the people who part with cash for this contraption can let us all know.

“Will Microsoft ride Kinect tiger or go Wii Wii Wii all the way home,” asks one of ZDNet’s FOSS-leaning bloggers, who adds:

As I noted Friday, Microsoft has backed down from earlier legal and technological threats against the programmers who turned Kinect into a general computer interface. But now Google’s Matt Cutts has tweaked the Green Monster with his own contest for the best Linux and open source applications using the device.

Note that this is not a Google contest. It’s a Matt Cutts contest. He just happens to work at Google.

As our Adrian Kingsley-Hughes notes, the Kinect’s parts cost just $56. Even at $149, that’s a healthy profit margin, but he also notes that Microsoft’s research costs mean it must sell “a lot of Kinect devices to turn this one into a serious money spinner.”

Based on the billions (in losses) which Xbox cost Microsoft, one should not be too optimistic here. KINect will definitely sell better than KIN, but again, this is not a proper basis for comparison. Any Wii sold already contains the equivalent of KINect. Microsoft is playing catch-up here and allegedly spends half a billion dollars just marketing this thing. The same goes for Vista Phony 7 [sic] marketing, which — as we predicted — will be money down the toilet. The Register ponders: “So did Windows Phone 7 ‘bomb in US’?”

40,000 devices is still embarrassing, even if it’s just the USA and leaves out the 90,000 or so Microsoft employees who’ll be getting one, and even if figures elsewhere are rather better. But before drawing any conclusions it’s worth thinking about the numbers.

Charles Arthur, who is working for a Bill Gates-funded publication (where the sponsorship helps inject bias sometimes [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]), looks back at the early days of Windows and suggests that we are seeing the end of this era. His headline states: “Has Microsoft’s Windows had its day?”

The bald man in the ill-fitting check jacket doesn’t pause as he stands beside the beige 1980s-vintage PC. The words pour out of his mouth like the sharpest huckster you’ve ever seen. “How much do YOU think this advanced operating environment is worth? WAIT just ONE minute before you answer,” he instructs eagerly. “WATCH as Windows integrates Lotus 1-2-3 with” – he clutches his lapels – “MIAMI VICE!”

The screen shows picture of a Ferrari pasted into a document. “NOW we can take THIS Ferrari and paste it RIGHT INTO Windows Write,” the man gabbles. “NOW how much do you think Microsoft Windows is worth?… DON’T ANSWER. WAIT until you see Windows Write and Windows Paint and LISTEN to what else you get at NO EXTRA CHARGE!”

We’re only 15 seconds in but already you feel buffeted. “The MS-DOS executive, an appointment calendar, a cardfile, a notepad, a clock, a control panel, a terminal, printer, a RAM driver, AND CAN YOU BELIEVE IT, REVERSI, yes that’s right, ALL these features and Reversi, for just – HOOOOW much did you guess?”

Guess? We had to guess? ” FIVE HUNDRED? A THOUSAND? EVEN MORE? NOOOO it’s just 99 dollars, that’s right, it’s 99 dollars, it’s an incredible value but it’s true, it’s Windows from Microsoft, order TODAY! PO BOX 286-DOS,” he concludes as the address flashes on the screen, before adding weirdly, and without explanation, “…. Except in Nebraska.”

Arthur refers to the viral video below. Tim (of TechBytes and OpenBytes) does not expect Ballmer to survive next year at Microsoft. Vista Phony 7 [sic] is just one of his many recent failures.

Ballmer money
Steve Ballmer in Windows 1.0 advertisement

Eye on Security: BBC Propaganda, Rootkits, and Stuxnet in Iran’s Nuclear Facilities

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 3:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sadeh fire festival

Summary: Some of the latest security news which affects only Windows users (or people whom Windows is using)

HERE are some security news picks from the past week.


Not a week goes by without some BBC propaganda such as this. Since many former Microsoft UK employees took leading positions in the BBC, new articles like this neglect to mention major facts like the scary story only referring to Windows and not computers by and large (BBC Click is encouraging similar narrow-mindedness right now).

“BBC’s usual high standards: no mention of MS Windows,” wrote Glyn Moody in response to it. Gordon from TechBytes wrote: “Yet another Windows only story “forgetting” to mention either “Microsoft” or “Windows” #fail !BBC” (he claims to have had a “deja-vu, found another the other day“).

Ask the BBC to call out Windows and thus inform the public. “Computer” is not the same as “Microsoft Windows” and taxpayers who fund the BBC deserve to know this.

The rest of the security news is tediously repetitive (yet new), so we just add it below categorised.


i. More Layers, Please

M$ has put many coats of paint on the old barn to secure that other OS but the malware writers have discovered a way to alter the MBR data so that rebooting turns off some of the layers of protection. The result is rootkits on the beloved 64bit “7″. Fortunately, our 64bit machines run Debian GNU/Linux. You need physical access to the machine or root access to alter the MBR with GNU/Linux. That other OS provides the tools by default… The modifications to UAC after the Vista fiasco opened the door to this rootkit. Malware artists have been going through this door since August.

ii. Rootkit able to bypass kernel protection and driver signing in 64-bit Windows

The 64-bit version of the Alureon rootkit / bot is able to bypass the special security features included in the 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and Vista and insert itself into the system. The tricks used have been known about in theory for several years, but until recently had not been used by malware in the wild. The 32-bit version of Alureon made headlines early this year, when the installation of a Microsoft patch left many systems unable to boot. The problem was caused by the previously unnoticed presence of the rootkit, which the patch effectively unmasked.

The 64-bit version of Alureon (aka. TDL) deactivates checks for driver signing and, even during the boot process, reroutes specific API calls in order to bypass the kernel’s PatchGuard mechanism. Driver signing is intended to ensure that Windows only loads drivers from known vendors. PatchGuard is intended to protect the operating system kernel from being modified by malicious code.


i. Stuxnet has a double payload

According to the latest analysis, Stuxnet is aimed not at disrupting a single system, but at two different systems. According to control systems security firm Langner Communications, the worm is not just designed to interfere with specific, variable frequency, motor control systems – it also attempts to disrupt turbine control systems. According to Langner, this would mean that, in addition to Iran’s uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, the country’s Bushehr nuclear power plant may have been a further target of the Stuxnet attack.

Specialists have been puzzling over the worm’s target for several weeks, with early rumours circulating that it was aimed at sabotaging Natanz or Bushehr. However, no-one initially suspected that its aim was to sabotage both plants, although clues that this might be the case have been emerging for some time. Stuxnet attacks Siemens control system types S7-300 (315) and S7-400 (417). The attack modules appear to have been created using different tools – probably even by different teams.

The code for the S7-417 system – used in the turbine control systems at Bushehr – is reported to be much more sophisticated than that for the S7-315 system. The code carries out what amounts to a man-in-the-middle attack in order to pass fake input and output values to the genuine plant control code. User code running on a programmable logic controller (PLC) does not usually query I / O ports directly, but instead reads from an input process image and writes to an output process image. Mapping of physical ports to logical ports is intended to ensure that I / O values do not change during processing cycles.

ii. Stuxnet virus could target many industries (from AP, copyright maximalist and fair use squasher)

A malicious computer attack that appears to target Iran’s nuclear plants can be modified to wreak havoc on industrial control systems around the world, and represents the most dire cyberthreat known to industry, government officials and experts said Wednesday.

They warned that industries are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the so-called Stuxnet worm as they merge networks and computer systems to increase efficiency. The growing danger, said lawmakers, makes it imperative that Congress move on legislation that would expand government controls and set requirements to make systems safer.

iii. Stuxnet Was Designed To Subtly Interfere With Uranium Enrichment

“Wired is reporting that the Stuxnet worm was apparently designed to subtly interfere with uranium enrichment by periodically speeding or slowing specific frequency converter drives spinning between 807Hz and 1210Hz. The goal was not to cause a major malfunction (which would be quickly noticed), but rather to degrade the quality of the enriched uranium to the point where much of it wouldn’t be useful in atomic weapons. Statistics from 2009 show that the number of enriched centrifuges operational in Iran mysteriously declined from about 4,700 to about 3,900 at around the time the worm was spreading in Iran.”

iv. Clues Suggest Stuxnet Virus Was Built for Subtle Nuclear Sabotage

The malware, however, doesn’t sabotage just any frequency converter. It inventories a plant’s network and only springs to life if the plant has at least 33 frequency converter drives made by Fararo Paya in Teheran, Iran, or by the Finland-based Vacon.

Even more specifically, Stuxnet targets only frequency drives from these two companies that are running at high speeds — between 807 Hz and 1210 Hz. Such high speeds are used only for select applications. Symantec is careful not to say definitively that Stuxnet was targeting a nuclear facility, but notes that “frequency converter drives that output over 600 Hz are regulated for export in the United States by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as they can be used for uranium enrichment.”

“There’s only a limited number of circumstances where you would want something to spin that quickly -– such as in uranium enrichment,” said O Murchu. “I imagine there are not too many countries outside of Iran that are using an Iranian device. I can’t imagine any facility in the U.S. using an Iranian device,” he added.

More links about Stuxnet:

  1. Ralph Langner Says Windows Malware Possibly Designed to Derail Iran’s Nuclear Programme
  2. Windows Viruses Can be Politically Motivated Sometimes
  3. Who Needs Windows Back Doors When It’s So Insecure?
  4. Windows Insecurity Becomes a Political Issue
  5. Windows, Stuxnet, and Public Stoning
  6. Stuxnet Grows Beyond Siemens-Windows Infections
  7. Has BP Already Abandoned Windows?
  8. Reports: Apple to Charge for (Security) Updates
  9. Windows Viruses Can be Politically Motivated Sometimes
  10. New Flaw in Windows Facilitates More DDOS Attacks
  11. Siemens is Bad for Industry, Partly Due to Microsoft
  12. Microsoft Security Issues in The British Press, Vista and Vista 7 No Panacea
  13. Microsoft’s Negligence in Patching (Worst Amongst All Companies) to Blame for Stuxnet
  14. Microsoft Software: a Darwin Test for Incompetence
  15. Bad September for Microsoft Security, Symantec Buyout Rumours
  16. Microsoft Claims Credit for Failing in Security
  17. Many Windows Servers Being Abandoned; Minnesota Goes the Opposite Direction by Giving Microsoft Its Data
  18. Windows Users Still Under Attack From Stuxnet, Halo, and Zeus
  19. Security Propaganda From Microsoft: Villains Become Heroes
  20. Security Problems in iOS and Windows


i. Microsoft disables Live Messenger links

According to the Vole’s blog, disabling the feature was designed to prevent the spread of a malicious worm.

The worm requires users to click a link within a message, upon which it will load a webpage that downloads the worm to your PC and then it sends the same message to people in your contact list.

It only affected those who had not upgraded to the newest version of Messenger that uses Microsoft’s Smartscreen, which shows up when you click on any link shared via Messenger.

A spokesperson said that the malicious worm was trying to spread itself through many of the world’s largest instant messaging and social networks, including Windows Live Messenger 2009.

Windows will never be secure. “Our products just aren’t engineered for security,” said Brian Valentine, one of the top Windows executive at the time.

Facebook Becomes Like Microsoft’s Hotmail 2.0

Posted in Google, Mail, Microsoft at 2:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Scoble and Zuckerberg
Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg
with former Microsoft evangelist (source: Robert Scoble)

Summary: Over time, Facebook becomes more like a rebranding of Microsoft (another label on Microsoft services, akin to Yahoo! search in America)

Microsoft cannot create decent products. To quote Arno Edelmann, Microsoft’s European business security product manager, “[u]sually Microsoft doesn’t develop products, we buy products.” There are many examples. Hotmail, which failed after Microsoft had acquired it (in an attempt to buy its way into E-mail domination), is falling into oblivion despite overhaul attempts. On the Web, Microsoft continues to lose close to $3 billions every single year. That cannot qualify as a success story, can it? Even Windows figures are faked, but that’s another story.

Having found itself well behind the competition in social networks, Microsoft bought part of Facebook a few years back (see our posts about Facebook). Microsoft did attempt to buy the whole of Facebook, but a lot of people do not know this. On an inter-personal basis, Microsoft and Facebook are close friends too and both are patent bullies. Facebook’s founder hangs out with the world’s biggest patent troll, who is Microsoft’s former CTO.

In any case, just so that everyone keeps abreast of the latest developments around Microsoft Office Web Apps, it seems like there’s a true Microsoft-Facebook tag-team act which mimics Google Apps/Mail. Earlier this year we warned that Facebook was becoming an enemy of OpenDocument Format (ODF); instead of promoting open standards, Facebook decided to increase Microsoft lock-in and spread it further through its users. Here is news about that:

What Facebook Didn’t Mention: Microsoft Office Web Apps Come to New Messaging Platform


Facebook’s newly announced messaging platform will deeply integrate Microsoft’s Office Web Apps so that Facebook users can view Word, Excel and PowerPoint attachments without having to leave the site. Rumors about this integration started to make the rounds on the Internet last week. Oddly, though, Facebook didn’t mention this integration during today’s press conference and makes no mention of it in the official announcement on its corporate blog.

So without buying the whole of Facebook, Microsoft is already dangling Mark Zuckerberg (to whom Facebook users are “dumb fucks”) like a marionette, turning those “dumb fucks” as Mark calls them into Microsoft sheep. Glyn Moody has just challenged Mark to remember where he came from.

Microsoft’s Office documents are already the dominant formats used around the world – a position that Microsoft has worked long and hard to protect. The rise of ODF as an alternative is a hopeful sign that things can change, but let’s not delude ourselves: it is still used by only a small minority, and it is a constant battle to get the format accepted more widely.

That battle just got harder, thanks to Facebook’s decision to integrate Microsoft Office formats into Messages in this way. It makes it much easier to share Microsoft documents than those created with OpenOffice/LibreOffice, say. Given the huge following that Facebook has – especially amongst the younger generation – that’s a really big problem for free software and its future.

So we need to ask Mark Zuckerberg support open formats, too. Why do I think he might listen? Well, for a start, because of the following statement to be found on the Facebook developers site:

Facebook has been developed from the ground up using open source software.

Facebook might never have been created without the existence of zero-cost open source tools that allowed Zuckerberg and his mates to hack together some code easily and quickly when they came up with their idea. It wouldn’t have grown and flourished to its current impressive scale if it had needed to buy ever-more licences for the software that it uses to run its huge infrastructure.

Without Free software, Mark would probably still be in some dormitory or a drop-out after the disciplinary committee chastised and maybe prosecuted him for his offences on campus (this is a story which Facebook has successfully buried over the years, keeping it off the public eye).

Being a prisoner of Facebook increasingly seems like being stuck in a mythical “Hotmail 2.0″ that is just another platform with which Microsoft can manipulate and spy on (yes, Facebook gives its data to Microsoft) many Web users. Professor Eben Moglen is very concerned about Facebook, which he views as a top threat to freedom.

Mozilla’s Rob Sayre Claims to Have Revealed More Internet Explorer 9 Benchmark Fraud From Microsoft

Posted in Deception, Microsoft at 1:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Playfair piechart

Summary: Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) is said to be cheating in performance tests again

Microsoft relies heavily on benchmark fraud and we gave several examples such as this one from last year. Microsoft was at times threatened with lawsuits over these frauds.

Recently we learned that W3C entryism [1, 2, 3] may have also contributed to false Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) propaganda from the W3C. They got caught. Microsoft still relies on lies and cheating because IE9 is somewhat is a mess [1, 2, 3, 4] and its development team seems to be collapsing. A lot of money is spent brainwashing people, having them believe that this is not the case — that IE9 is actually a massive leap forward. Mozilla cannot match propaganda efforts by throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at perception campaigns. Mozilla just doesn’t even have that kind of money. What Mozilla can do, however, is help expose the lies which come out of Microsoft and Rob Sayre has just done that. Slashdot’s summary has the headline “Did Internet Explorer 9 Cheat In The SunSpider Benchmark?”

“A Mozilla engineer has uncovered something embarrassing for Microsoft – Internet Explorer is cheating in the SunSpider Benchmark. The SunSpider, although developed by Apple, has nowadays become a very popular choice of benchmark for the JavaScript engines of browsers.”

The original coverage of the original blog post starts by stating:

A Mozilla engineer has uncovered something embarrassing for Microsoft – Internet Explorer might be cheating in the SunSpider Benchmark. The SunSpider, although developed by Apple, has nowadays become a very popular choice of benchmark for the JavaScript engines of browsers.

Microsoft is a corrupt company (with many documents to prove it). Never expect fair benchmarks involving Microsoft. It ought to be noted that Microsoft is quite unique in that regard, so it’s not a scapegoat.

“Microsoft did sponsor the benchmark testing and the NT server was better tuned than the Linux one. Having said that, I must say that I still trust the Windows NT server would have outperformed the Linux one.”

Windows platform manager, Microsoft South Africa
Reference: Outrage at Microsoft’s independent, yet sponsored NT 4.0/Linux research

Microsoft FUD at the End of its Life Cycle

Posted in Deception, FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 1:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.”

(Usually attributed to) Mahatma Gandhi

Summary: Microsoft lies about GNU/Linux, which means it ran out of fear tactics and is now just using libel/slander tactics

SEVERAL weeks ago we showed that Microsoft had resorted to the last phase in its competition against software freedom [1, 2]. By choosing to go this way Microsoft only alienates more people as opposed to winning any friends.

Microsoft says that “Linux at the end of its life cycle,” according to Dr. Moody who translated from Russian:

The idea that “Linux is at the end of its life cycle” is rather rich coming from the vendor of a platform that is increasingly losing market share, both at the top and bottom end of the market, while Linux just gets stronger. I’d wager that variants of Linux will be around rather longer than Windows.

Microsoft’s claim is hilarious for so many other reasons and we’ll leave the subject at that. Below are some Russia-related links about other things Microsoft is doing to suppress GNU/Linux adoption. It’s a losing battle as it drives down the cost of Windows, devalues Windows, and leads Microsoft to so-called ‘piracy’ crackdowns which only accelerate defections to GNU/Linux.

FUD about GNU/Linux has generally increased a lot recently and the argument is void, it’s exceptionally weak. We have some new examples mentioned in the IRC logs and audiocasts (but not enough time to cover them in posts).

Links 18/11/2010: Debian 6.0 Squeeze Release Update, Java 7 and 8

Posted in News Roundup at 12:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Server

    • Amdocs Benchmark sets new record for Large-Volume Processing of Prepaid Voice, Data and Messaging

      Amdocs (NYSE: DOX), the leading provider of customer experience systems, today announced the results of a benchmark that tested the Amdocs jNetX NextGen SCP (service control point) product, using the Linux operating system on HP ProLiant BL460c servers in BladeSystem c7000 enclosures and Intel® Xeon® processors. The benchmark demonstrated real-time service control for more than 510 million sessions and events during peak calling hours, also known as busy hour call attempts (BHCA). No other industry benchmark publicly reported processing of such a high volume of prepaid voice, data and messaging sessions and events.

  • Kernel Space

    • What’s Going On With Iveland & OpenBenchmarking.org
    • Benchmarking ARM Tablets, Smart-Phones

      When writing this morning about what’s going on with Iveland and OpenBenchmarking.org, one of the recent items being worked on in this area completely escaped my mind: the mobile benchmarking improvements. Time and money (new hardware) has been spent in providing greater automated testing and performance benchmarking of the Phoronix Test Suite on ARM-based mobile devices.

    • trace: Add user-space event tracing/injection
    • Graphics Stack

      • Genode OS Now Has A LiveCD Demo With Gallium3D

        Back in July we reported that Gallium3D and Intel’s GEM were ported to Genode OS. Unless you read that article, chances are you never heard of Genode OS. Genode is a unique, niche operating system that is designed for dynamic workloads while being robust and secure. Genode takes a unique approach with frameworks to offer greater security and be a less complex operating system. It’s primarily designed for high-security computing, automotive systems, and other devices requiring high security and/or dependability. Now though a LiveCD of this free operating system is available, which includes support for demonstrating its Gallium3D framework implementation.

        Besides being able to show off Gallium3D on Genode OS (if using Intel graphics!) there are demos included for also showing off the Qt4/WebKit support, improved software integration, and then how even as a browser-plugin to virtualize the Linux kernel booting.

      • AMD Already Has Open-Source Fusion Drivers

        There’s good news for those of you wanting to quickly go out and pickup an AMD Fusion system as soon as it’s available: there’s already open-source drivers for Fusion.

        AMD’s Alex Deucher has now confirmed that there are open-source graphics drivers for Fusion on Linux already in existence, but they’re just waiting for them to be approved for release. Alex (a.k.a. agd5f) mentioned this in our forums. “Open drivers are already written, just waiting for final approval to release.”

        While it’s a bit of a surprise that the open-source drivers are already written and just behind held up by approval (perhaps more legal reviews), it should not come as a complete surprise that AMD has been working on open-source drivers for this CPU+GPU combo architecture.

      • AMD Fusion has ‘open-source drivers ready’

        Hardware hounds early awaiting the release of AMD’s Fusion chip – a combo of CPU and GPU functions on a single die which AMD have dubbed an ‘APU’ (Accelerated Processing Unit) – will surely be excited to hear that open-source drivers are ready and waiting.

      • AMD Catalyst 10.11 Linux Driver Released

        As was pointed out in our forums, the AMD Catalyst 10.11 Linux driver has tipped up today. This driver, with its installer package approaching 120MB in size, is now available for download at AMD’s web-site.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • KDAB and Partners Build KDE-based Mobile App Suite Using Qt 4.7

        Just a few hundred kilometres from our Oslo office in the Swedish city of Hagfors sits one of the foremost independent sources of Qt consulting and mentoring, training and add-on products – KDAB. KDAB is a Qt Certified Partner and they’re a nice bunch of guys and girls too.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Gnome Shell Overview-Relayout Branch Gets Polished

        Some recent updates in the overview-relayout Gnome Shell branch brought a few very interesting changes:

        * the large black boxes around the currently selected view are gone
        * the controls to add/remove workspaces have been moved to the screen edge
        * and slide out on hover and during drags
        * animation when entering or leaving the overview has been modified to only zoom the window previews
        * it is now possible to add / reorder / remove favorites from the dash using (see the 2 screenshots below)

      • Context Toolbars in The Board

        When I blogged about the new toolbar in The Board, I mentioned that it was part of wider interaction model I would be implementing soon. So, here’s the very initial implementation of what I call context toolbars in The Board. When I started thinking about how I would offer ways to customize the things you add to The Board, I had a few simple goals in mind in terms of UI.

      • How do I feel about Unity and Wayland in Ubuntu?

        There’s been a lot of garment-rending of late about Ubuntu’s decision to steer away from GNOME 3 and GNOME-shell and instead pursue it’s own desktop environment (or is it a window manager?) in the form of Unity, as well as its intent to drop or marginalize Xorg in favor of Wayland for its graphical display.

        In my view, community considerations aside, the moves are risky and bold, and they could either set Ubuntu apart as a technological leader, or they could scuttle the distribution entirely as an inefficient platform that nobody wants to use.

        Yep. Risky.

        I’m not sure how I’ll like an interface meant for mobile clients, and while I do like GNOME 2 and am unsure about the performance penalty of GNOME 3/GNOME-shell and/or Unity, I’ll certainly take a look at what Ubuntu’s doing with its next couple of releases.

  • Distributions

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 Aims For Government-Ready Security

        During Red Hat’s official launch event for their new Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 (RHEL 6) release, executives from the company focused heavily on new performance gains. While performance and scalability are key elements of RHEL 6, so too is security.

        With RHEL 6, Red Hat is debuting a number of new features into its enterprise Linux, including new virtual security services as well as the System Security Services Daemon. Security services aren’t the only area of RHEL 6 built for security, as all RHEL 6 packages now benefit from a new 4096-bit RSA hardware signing key as well.

      • Fedora

    • Debian Family

      • Debian 6.0 Squeeze Release Update

        The Debian Release Team has made a status update on Debian 6.0, “Squeeze”. They are proud to report that Debian is moving towards the release like a glacier: “inevitably and unstoppingly”.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Make it really easy to fix bugs on Ubuntu

          One of the best things that anyone ever said was, “not enough gets said about the importance of abandoning crap”. Mr Glass was probably talking about writing, but his words could well have been aimed squarely at any well-established software development process.

          Right now, it’s too hard to fix a bug in Ubuntu. There are a lot of things that we can do to make it easier, let me tell you about mine.

        • Ask Ubuntu

          Beyond asking and answering questions, you can also vote (up or down) questions and answers others have provided. Votes go towards a person’s reputation on the site. For example, if you answer a question and someone votes your answer up, you’ll gain +10. If someone votes up your question, you’ll gain +5. That’s right, good questions go towards building your reputation. For more info on reputation and Ask Ubuntu in general, check out the Ask Ubuntu FAQ.

        • Ubuntu Global Jam: Let’s Make This Rock

          So, I just wanted to give everyone a heads up that the date of the Ubuntu Global Jam is 1st – 3rd April 2011. I know it is a way off yet, but I am really keen that everyone has as much notice as possible to get your events ready! Laura has added the Ubuntu Global Jam in the LoCo Directory so feel free to go and add your events there! We will also be having some tutorial sessions about how to organize events soon! When you add an event, but sure to Tweet/Dent/Facebook it and use the #ugj, #ubuntu, and #locoteams tags so others can see them!

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Do you know where you’re going?
      • Palm Chief: By Birthright, Palm Should Have Owned the Smartphone Market

        What Palm chief Jon Rubinstein’s appearance at Web 2.0 Summit today lacked in news, it made up for somewhat in perspective–on the mobile space, Palm’s smartphone birthright, its acquisition by Hewlett-Packard and its future under HP.

      • Should HP/Palm Take Legal Action?

        When we first saw video of the PlayBook we were slightly miffed about how closely RIM’s new OS for the tablet copied webOS. Now seeing it in action in today’s hands on with Engadget it just blows our mind how RIM has pretty much made a carbon copy of webOS multitasking. This thing has a launch bar, the same type of gestures, and of course multitasking with webOS style cards.

      • Nokia/MeeGo

        • MeeGo conference: momentum intact despite lack of hardware

          The MeeGo Conference in Dublin has attracted over a thousand attendees from all over the world. The diverse audience includes Linux hackers, engineers from prominent hardware manufacturing companies, mobile technology enthusiasts, third-party application developers, and software consultants. The conference-goers exhibit a powerful sense of optimism about MeeGo–despite the fact that the emerging platform doesn’t ship on practically any mainstream devices, yet.

          Nokia discussed its product strategy during the opening keynotes, but did not disclose the roadmap. The company initially planned to announce its first MeeGo-based device this year, but has pushed it back to 2011. Its handset lineup is still dominated by the struggling Symbian platform, which lacks a competitive user experience and falls short of key rivals. Nokia has been slow to execute its MeeGo strategy, but has recently started to refocus and pick up the pace. Intel has also been slow to fulfill its mobile ambitions, too. The chipmaker has not yet delivered an Atom processor that is suitable for smartphones, though the tablet-friendly Oak Trail chip is expected to arrive next year. The next MeeGo Conference is scheduled for May, and could possibly bring some of the hoped-for announcements.

      • Android

        • 12 Open Source Android Applications Worth Checking Out

          There are Android users who don’t have the vaguest idea of what open source is or what it stands for. Then there are those open source evangelists who bought Android phone primarily because of the reason that it is open source and based on Linux. This post is especially meant for those who are included in the second category.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • 100 Million Adblock Plus Downloads

        Today we’re very happy to celebrate a huge milestone: Adblock Plus became the first browser add-on to be downloaded 100 million times!

      • Awesome test day for the new SUMO KB
      • Agent 008 Ball – Creating an HTML5 Game

        I’ve been meaning to write something about this for a long time! Over the summer we created Agent 008 Ball, a spy-themed HTML5 pool game. Creating it was a blast! We put a little video together to talk about the design process. You can check it out below. Also, here’s the case study for the project.

      • Mozilla Labs Night “Gaming Special” comes to London

        Mozilla Labs Gaming is hosting a Labs Night Open Web Gaming Special – in London this time, together with Six to Start!

        This Labs Night will be all about games being developed and played on the Open Web – expect lots of cool demos, talks and interesting people to hang out with. You can register for the event on our Eventbrite page.

  • Oracle

    • Oracle submits specs for Java 7 and 8

      An Oracle official detailed on Tuesday the submissions of upcoming Java releases to the formal specification process, including versions 7 and 8 of Java’s standard edition.

      The technologies under consideration have been formulated as JSR (Java Specification Requests) for consideration by the Java Community Process, Mark Reinhold, chief architect of Oracle’s Java platform group, said in a blog post: “These JSRs have been a long time coming. They’re now — finally — on the JCP ballot for approval; results should be available in two weeks.”

  • Education


  • Licensing

    • The Internet blacklist (COICA) is back: Take action before Thursday

      Now that the elections are over, the bill is back — and could pass out of committee this Thursday.

      S. 3804, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), would create a blacklist of domain names that the government thinks are involved in copyright infringement, which the Attorney General can then add to with a court order.

    • The Case Against COICA

      To recap, COICA gives the government dramatic new copyright enforcement powers, in particular the ability to make entire websites disappear from the Internet if infringement, or even links to infringement, are deemed to be “central” to the purpose of the site. Rather than just targeting files that actually infringe copyright law, COICA’s “nuclear-option” design has the government blacklisting entire sites out of the domain name system — a reckless scheme that will undermine global Internet infrastructure and censor legitimate online speech.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Background on the Icelandic Constitutional Assembly

      The electorate is the roughly 228000 voters in Iceland, and there are 523 individual candidates running in the election, all as individuals although some have known connections with special interest groups, political parties, and such. These relationships have been mapped by various websites. Various other websites provide filtering mechanisms of various sorts in order to help people weed out the best 25 candidates to vote for.

      After the elections the assembly will convene in February 2011 and operate for 2-4 months during that year to draft a new constitution and propose it to parliament, along with suggested adoption mechanisms and protocols. If parliament accepts the new constitution it will be put to a referendum.

      There has been an alarming amount of P2P activity in relation to this election. Campaigns are primarily being operated through social networking sites, with a lot of pressure on candidates not to advertise in traditional media. A lot of individuals and organizations have been in direct contact with the various candidates in order to provide their own arbitrary filters, and in general there is a lot of buzz, but also a lot of uncertainty, as the number of candidates and the equidistribution of the attention is the source of great confusion.

    • Open Data

      • new york times: the next big idea in humanities is data

        The next big idea in language, history and the arts? Data.

        Members of a new generation of digitally savvy humanists argue it is time to stop looking for inspiration in the next political or philosophical “ism” and start exploring how technology is changing our understanding of the liberal arts. This latest frontier is about method, they say, using powerful technologies and vast stores of digitized materials that previous humanities scholars did not have.”

    • Open Access/Content

      • Reclaim our Scientific Scholarship (Beyond the PDF)

        We do not own our scholarship. The Antaran Stellar Society runs the communication of scholarship for the personal gain of it and its officers. The Sirius Cybernetics Library Corporation has copyrighted the Library of the Galaxy cataloguing system. It also runs it for itself and officers. The motto of these organizations is:

        * Embrace
        * Control
        * Exterminate

        The only way forward for scientific publishing is to reclaim it. That’s not easy when scientific societies have sold their journals to Whitehole publishing. Major societies have abandoned their role as stewards of scholarship and turned it to maximising income.

  • Programming

    • Google Code to stop checking SourceForge names

      Google open source and public sector programs manager Chris DiBona has announced that, from the 22nd of November, names for new projects created on the company’s Project Hosting service will no longer be checked against SourceForge to see if the project name is already in use. Up until now, new projects created on the Google Code project hosting site were automatically checked against SourceForge to see if the name already existed and, if it was already in use, the Google Code developers would email that project’s administrator to see if the name could be used again.

    • The version control timeline


  • Crunch time for upgrade of internet addresses that are running out

    With cyberspace almost full, Samantha Amjadali finds out it’s going to take half a trillion dollars to avoid a global squeeze.

    IPV6. It is the ultimate case of procrastination; a problem so big, so complex and so expensive, the world has ignored it for two decades.

    The problem: the internet is full. Well, almost.

  • Welcome to My World, Mr. Zuckerberg: Facebook Forays into Email with Fmail

    Welcome, Facebook, to my home of the last thirty years — the wild, wonderful, wacky, wheels-within-wheels world of modern email!

    It sounds like you plan to be here for the long haul, so I hope you brought everything you need: good programmers and deep pockets shouldn’t be a problem for you, but you also need people who understand the many important email standards (including the new and emerging ones for domain-based email signatures and non-western character sets for email addresses and domains), the complex interplay between spammers and spam-fighters, and the remarkable variety of ways that email composed on your system will appear on the hundreds of other platforms in the world that might receive it.

    From the outside, email seems pretty simple — there’s a To, a From, and a few other relevant fields, right? But almost every aspect of email harbors a “gotcha” — some fundamental, some a legacy of email’s evolution, but all critical if you want to “play nice” and have your email interoperate well with everyone else’s.

  • Ancient road uncovered in Luxor
  • Science

    • Bill Nye of ‘The Science Guy’ fame collapses during speech at USC [Updated]

      Popular TV personality Bill Nye collapsed onstage Tuesday night in front of hundreds of audience members during a presentation at USC, campus officials said.

      Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics and USC’s department of public safety responded to the scene about 8:40 p.m., but it was unclear if Nye was treated or required transport. There was no information available on his condition late Tuesday.

    • Intel pares 45nm Cores to prep for Sandy Bridge

      Intel is reportedly phasing out 21 different 45nm processors, paving the way for the release of its second-generation, 32nm Core CPUs code-named “Sandy Bridge.” Due in early 2011, the new CPUs will feature a revised microarchitecture, “next-generation” Turbo Boost technology, and visual performance rivaling discrete GPUs (graphics processing units), the chipmaker says.

    • US Scientists Significantly More Likely to Publish Fake Research, Study Finds

      US scientists are significantly more likely to publish fake research than scientists from elsewhere, finds a trawl of officially withdrawn (retracted) studies, published online in the Journal of Medical Ethics.


      The fakes were more likely to appear in leading publications with a high “impact factor.”

    • Antimatter atoms produced and trapped at CERN

      Antimatter – or the lack of it – remains one of the biggest mysteries of science. Matter and its counterpart are identical except for opposite charge, and they annihilate when they meet. At the Big Bang, matter and antimatter should have been produced in equal amounts. However, we know that our world is made up of matter: antimatter seems to have disappeared. To find out what has happened to it, scientists employ a range of methods to investigate whether a tiny difference in the properties of matter and antimatter could point towards an explanation.

    • Nvidia chief scientist: CPUs slowed by legacy design

      When it comes to power-efficient computing, CPUs are weighed down by too many legacy features to outperform GPUs (graphics processing units) in executing common tasks in parallel, said the chief scientist for the GPU vendor Nvidia.

      CPUs “burn a lot of power” executing tasks that may be unnecessary in today’s computing environment, noted Bill Dally, chief scientist and senior vice president of research for Nvidia, during his keynote Wednesday at the Supercomputer 2010 conference in New Orleans.

    • Designer bacteria can heal cracks in concrete buildings

      Researchers have designed bacteria that can produce a special glue to knit together cracks in concrete structures.

      The genetically modified microbe has been programmed to swim down fine cracks in concrete and once at the bottom it produces a mixture of calcium carbonate and a bacterial glue. This glue combines with the filamentous bacterial cells, ultimately hardening to the same strength as the surrounding concrete and essentially “knitting” the building back together.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Top chefs back curb on soy imports to protect rainforest

      Chefs at some of Britain’s top restaurants are backing a parliamentary bill to reduce the UK meat and dairy industries’ dependence on imported soy, which they say is contributing to the destruction of the South American rainforest.

      Michelin-starred Raymond Blanc of Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Oxfordshire, and Michael Wignall of Latymer, Surrey, are among leading chefs to support the Sustainable Livestock bill, to be debated tomorrow.

    • BMJ Lobby Watch – The Stockholm Network

      Earlier this month, UK health secretary Andrew Lansley announced that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) would be stripped of its power to halt the purchase of drugs not considered cost effective for the NHS. He argued that the new system would be one where the “price of a drug will be determined by its assessed value”.

      The Stockholm Network, a pan-European think tank network, agreed with the proposed change to NICE’s remit. In a press release its chief executive, Helen Disney, argued that the move showed that, “even at a time of austerity, the British public does not want or accept rationed healthcare”.

      The network, which produces research for “market-oriented policy ideas in Europe”, has long had NICE within its sights.


      In 2006, the same year that Pfizer made £8bn (€9bn, $13bn) in annual sales for its cholesterol drug Lipitor (atorvastatin), the bestselling drug in the world, the Stockholm Network published its report Cholesterol: The Public Policy Implications of Not Doing Enough. The report concluded there is “evidence of wide-scale under-prescribing and suboptimal dosing of effective lipid-lowering agents in Europe” and promoted “greater use of strong statins or the addition of cholesterol absorption inhibitors to statins” to avoid a health and welfare crisis in Europe.

      Last year two members, the Liberalni Institute and the Centre for European Reform left the network after the publication of a 2009 Stockholm Network report entitled The UK Pharmaceutical Industry: Current Challenges and Future Solutions. The report argued that “[a] lack of government investment is another factor adversely affecting the UK pharmaceutical industry.” Writing in the Telegraph blog Alex Singleton accused the network of “calling for government funding of the pharmaceutical industry”, although Helen Disney contended that the report had been misrepresented in the article.

    • Drug companies ‘exploiting rules to make exorbitant profits from NHS’

      Drug companies are today accused of making exorbitant profits from the NHS by exploiting arrangements designed to encourage them to develop new drugs for rare diseases.

      Twenty consultants and a patients’ group are publishing an open letter to the prime minister, calling for an inquiry. They tell David Cameron that, far from inventing new drugs, companies are in effect repackaging them to get a licence, enabling them to hike the price hugely.

      Legislation was brought in by the EU to encourage companies to devise and seek licenced for new drugs for what are called “orphan” diseases – those for which there is not a huge market because they are relatively rare.

      But the letter’s signatories say the change in the rules has had unintended consequences. They cite a drug which has been used for the last 20 years to treat two rare muscle diseases. Although it did not have a licence for that use, doctors could prescribe it – and did – on their own authority. It used to cost around £800 to £1,000 per patient per year.

    • Cholera reported in Florida as Haiti death toll climbs

      Haiti reported more cholera deaths Wednesday as chaos reigned in this country’s second-largest city, and cases among people who had traveled from Haiti were reported in Florida and the Dominican Republic.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Obama’s missed opportunity in Jakarta

      Unlike British Prime Minister David Cameron in his determination to challenge China’s human rights record (albeit in carefully crafted diplomatic language), President Obama’s failure to raise human rights issues with Indonesian’s President Yudhoyono was disappointing. Just a day before Cameron’s speech to students in Beijing, the US president made a comparable keynote speech at the University of Indonesia. But instead of focusing on bilateral relations between the US and Indonesia, Obama used this stage in the world’s most populous Muslim nation to set out his vision of rebuilding ties with the Muslim world.

    • Marketing War to Children, Paid for by American Taxpayers

      In the gap between a boy’s passionate fantasies and the smell of dead bodies in a mass grave marches . . . America’s Army.

      “He wonders if God is punishing him because before he joined the Army he thought of war as something fun and exciting.”

      We couldn’t wage our current wars without the all-volunteer military whose recruitment goals get fed every year by idealistic young people, who continue, despite all counter-evidence bursting off the front pages, to buy into the romance and excitement of war and armed do-goodism that the recruiters, with the help of a vast “militainment” industry, peddle like so many Joe Camels.

    • NJ, ID legislators ready to ban airport pornoscanners – your help needed!

      Aaron Swartz sez, “Bold legislators in New Jersey and Idaho have introduced bills stopping the new porno-scanners, but that’s not enough — we need to pass these bills in every state! So I set up a thing to make it super-easy to contact your state legislator about it. Just add your name and zip code to our petition and we’ll automatically email your state rep.”

    • Opting-out of Advanced Imaging Technology and the Pat-down Doesn’t Fly

      And finally, the $10,000.00 question of the day… Will you receive a $10,000.00 fine if you opt out of screening all together and leave the checkpoint? While TSA has the legal authority to levy a civil penalty of up to $11,000.00 for cases such as this, each case is determined on the individual circumstances of the situation.

    • Has Airport Security Gone Too Far?

      In May, Transportation Security Administration screener Rolando Negrin pummeled a co-worker with his government-issued baton. The feud began, according to a Miami-Dade Police Department report, after Mr. Negrin’s training session with one of the agency’s whole-body imagers. The scan “revealed [Mr. Negrin] had a small penis,” the disgruntled co-worker told police. After a few months, he “could not take the jokes any more and lost his mind.”

      Now the TSA is rolling out these ultra-revealing imagers across the country in an attempt to uncover hidden threats like the so-called underwear bomb found on a Detroit-bound flight last Christmas. The agency and the scanners’ manufacturers insist they’ve installed features and instituted procedures that will make passenger embarrassments impossible.

    • Your Guide to Navigating Airport Security With Ease
    • Amid airport anger, GOP takes aim at screening

      Did you know that the nation’s airports are not required to have Transportation Security Administration screeners checking passengers at security checkpoints? The 2001 law creating the TSA gave airports the right to opt out of the TSA program in favor of private screeners after a two-year period. Now, with the TSA engulfed in controversy and hated by millions of weary and sometimes humiliated travelers, Rep. John Mica, the Republican who will soon be chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, is reminding airports that they have a choice.

    • TSA pats down a screaming toddler

      You might think a 3-year-old would whiz through security. A child is non-threatening, wears slip-on shoes, and carries little luggage.

    • Websites publish advice to student protesters on how to avoid arrest

      More than 70 websites today published guidance to student protesters about avoiding arrest, in defiance of a police ruling that doing so was unlawful.

      The anti-police blog Fitwatch was suspended yesterday after detectives from C011, the Metropolitan police’s public order branch, told the company hosting its website that it was “being used to undertake criminal activities”.

    • Blogger faces terror charges for ‘naming MPs’

      A West Midlands blogger has been charged with terrorism offences for allegedly using a blog to list members of parliament who voted in favour of the Iraq war.

      Bilal Zaheer Ahmad, a 23-year-old man from Wolverhampton, was arrested a week ago by West Midlands Police.

    • Is the American public about to toss Israel?

      Some opinion analysts, like the 2009 Zogby International poll of American attitudes toward Israelis and Palestinians, express surprise with what they are learning from the American public and detect significant changes in American public attitudes favoring US disengagement from Israel.

      Such changes in attitudes are not yet evident in Congress or in the Office of the Vice President. But then, as one of Biden’s Democratic Congressional colleagues from Cleveland Ohio just recently reelected and now planning to force a Congressional vote on withdrawing from Afghanistan, noted this week, “Joe’s a nice fella but a God awful slow learner! Cracks and fissures are shooting around and inside Joe’s great American pro Israel public opinion vase etched in gold with the words: ‘US Support for Israel Must Continue Forever!’

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Biofuel plan will cause rise in carbon emissions

      Britain’s promise to more than double its use of biofuels by 2020 is “significantly” adding to worldwide carbon emissions, the Government admitted yesterday. Britain is signed up to a European guarantee to source 10 per cent of its transport fuel from renewable sources, such as biofuels, within the next 10 years.

    • Extreme weather forecasts: web users unite to power climate change project

      From today, anyone with a computer and internet access can be part of a huge, pioneering climate change experiment, probing the controversial question of whether extreme weather events will become more or less common as the world warms.

    • A stunning year in climate science reveals that human civilization is on the precipice

      This week marks the one-year anniversary of what the anti-science crowd successfully labeled ‘Climategate’. The media will be doing countless retrospectives, most of which will be wasted ink, like the Guardian’s piece — focusing on climate scientists at the expense of climate science, which is precisely the kind of miscoverage that has been going on for the whole year!

      I’ll save that my media critiques for Part 2, since I think that Climategate’s biggest impact was probably on the media, continuing their downward trend of focusing on style over substance, of missing the story of the century, if not the millennia.

    • Tory senators kill climate bill passed by House

      The Conservatives have used their clout in the Senate stacked by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to kill an NDP climate change bill that was passed by a majority of the House of Commons.

      Without any debate in the Red Chamber, Conservative senators caught their Liberal and unelected counterparts off-guard on Tuesday by calling a snap vote on Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act introduced by Bruce Hyer, a New Democrat who represents Thunder Bay-Superior North in the House.

  • Finance

    • Do 3D Printers Bypass Customs?

      There could be several interesting effects on business and society when 3D printers become widespread, and we’ve discussed a few of them in the past, including possible crime, for example. But here’s another one to think about: Customs Control.

      Most countries have some level of customs controls, in which imported goods are inspected for legality and sometimes taxed as well. This approach has worked fine for centuries, but things might get a little different in the near future when citizens have access to 3D printers that can reproduce many types of objects.

    • Ireland: the good stuff

      Amid all the talk of bailouts, it’s easy to forget there are parts of Irish life that economics can’t reach. We asked Twitter users to name the things they love about Ireland. Here are 50 of them, in all their unpunctuated glory

    • Debt collectors utilize Facebook to embarrass those who owe

      Debt collectors can be relentless and downright rude on the phone, but now a St. Petersburg woman is filing suit alleging the company that financed her car loan began harassing family members over the social networking website Facebook.

      Melanie Beacham says she fell behind on her car payment after getting sick and taking a medical leave from work. She contacted MarkOne Financial to explain the situation but says the harassing phone calls, as many as 20 per day, kept coming. Then one day she got a call from her sister saying the company contacted her in Georgia.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Europe Reimagines Orwell’s Memory Hole

      Inspired by thoughtful pieces by Mike Masnick on Techdirt and L. Gordon Crovitz’s column yesterday in The Wall Street Journal, I wrote a perspective piece this morning for CNET regarding the European Commission’s recently proposed “right to be forgotten.”

      A Nov. 4th report promises new legislation next year “clarifying” this right under EU law, suggesting not only that the Commission thinks it’s a good idea but, even more surprising, that it already exists under the landmark 1995 Privacy Directive.

    • 3 More Reasons Not to Use Facebook Messages

      Many good reasons to be wary of Facebook’s newly announced “Messages” service have already been pointed out on numerous occasions throughout the media. Even besides the obvious privacy concerns, other features of the new service also could prove problematic for those who choose to adopt it, as many observers have suggested.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • U.K. Government to Snub BBC, Google Over Web Access, FT Reports

      U.K. Communications Minister Ed Vaizey will say today that Internet service providers should be free to favor traffic from one content provider over another, provided customers are informed, the Financial Times reported.

      In a speech at a London telecommunications conference organized by the newspaper, the minister will say the market should decide the extent to which service providers can charge for preferential content delivery and slow down other traffic.

    • UK.gov ignores ‘net neutrality’ campaigners

      ISPs will be allowed to charge content providers to prioritise their traffic, the government indicated today.

      A speech by the communications minister Ed Vaizey confirmed that the concept of “net neutrality” remains irrelevant in the UK under the coalition.

      As long as providers are open about their policies, he said, the competitive market means consumers can take their business elsewhere.

      A potentially lucrative new revenue stream will be opened up for ISPs, with services that depend on speed or other network quality factors, such as video and online games, likely to be first to be asked to pay for delivery guarantees.

    • The Open Internet enhances our freedom of speech

      Ed Vaizey’s speech on “net neutrality” misses a vital point: being “open” about “closing” the Internet won’t deliver competition and innovation on the Internet.

      Money and commercial interest can easily over-ride public interest if we do not assert it. In this case, unlike the USA, there is a degree of collusion going on which may lead our governments down a dangerous path.

    • UK government proposal to dump Net Neutrality will not create a free market

      You can’t leave government alone for a minute can you? One minute they are heaping garlands on the tech industry with TechCity proposals and the like. The next minute they are proposing to dump Net Neutrality – the entire reason we had a flowering of innovation in the first place.

      UK Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said in a speech at an Financial Times conference today that Internet service providers should be allowed to favour traffic from one content provider over another, so long as the user was aware this was happening. Oh sure, that’s going to happen. Vaizey’s view is that market should decide whether ISPs can charge for preferential content delivery, thus creating a slow lane for those who can’t or won’t pay for the fast one.

    • Minister Ed Vaizey backs ‘two-speed’ internet

      Culture minister Ed Vaizey has backed a “two-speed” internet, letting service providers charge content makers and customers for “fast lane” access.

      It paves the way for an end to “net neutrality” – with heavy bandwidth users like Google and the BBC likely to face a bill for the pipes they use.

    • ENDitorial: Net neutrality – wait and see the end of the open Internet

      At the joint European Parliament and European Commission net neutrality summit in Brussels on 11 November there was a clear political message – that interference with Internet traffic is permissible as long as companies tell their consumers that it is happening.

      The Commission will “wait and see” if such interferences cause problems for the market and will consider taking action if this is the case. In a whole day of discussions, the fundamental rights aspects of the interference by private companies with citizens’ communications were only questioned by Jeremie Zimmermann from La Quadrature du Net and Jan Albrecht MEP (Greens/EFA, Germany).

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Righthaven’s Retreat On ‘Partial Copying’ Cases Shows Firm’s Vulnerability

        In a sign that Righthaven is on the defensive, the controversial copyright enforcement company has offered to permanently drop one of its lawsuits—provided it doesn’t have to pay legal fees to the attorneys defending the website it sued, Democratic Underground. The move shows the startup company’s concerns about the potential for mounting legal bills.

      • AFP Still Not Giving Up On Its Bizarre Claim That Twitpic Images Are Freely Licensed To Anyone

        Earlier this year, we wrote about an absolutely bizarre lawsuit, where the newswire AFP — a company who has claimed that merely linking to its stories is infringement — had sued a photographer whose photograph AFP had used without permission (and with a false credit). The story was so convoluted and filled with confusion that it was really quite amazing that anyone involved is still pushing forward with the case. The “short” version is that a photographer in Haiti when the earthquake happened earlier this year opened a Twitter and a Twitpic account soon after the earthquake, in order to show off some of the photographs he had taken. Another person copied those photos and pretended they were his (also on Twitpic) and offered to license them. The AFP saw the photos from the second person (who didn’t actually have the rights to them) and then posted them on its own stories, crediting the second guy.

      • The artists who still aren’t on iTunes
      • The Pirate Bay, One Year After The Tracker Shut Down

        Exactly a year ago The Pirate Bay team surprised friends and foes when it announced that the world’s largest BitTorrent tracker was shutting down for good. The site’s torrent index would remain online, but millions of users had to find alternative trackers or rely on trackerless technologies to share their torrents from then on. In addition, The Pirate Bay suggested a move away from .torrent files entirely in the future.

      • Google strikes deal to scan French books

        Internet giant Google struck an agreement with France’s biggest publisher Hachette Livre to scan thousands of out-of-print French books for Google’s online library, the companies said on Wednesday.

      • CC’s Contribution to Welfare, Field-by-Field: The Separate Contribution to Collaboration & Sharing

        You have probably already noticed that through this series of posts we are proceeding along a trend from general high-level questions to the more practical ones of measurement and evaluation. So, it shouldn’t surprise you that our next nuts-and-bolts step is to start touring the different fields in which CC is active and analyzing its separate contribution to each.

      • Warner Bros. vows to prosecute Deathly Hallows leaker

        Torrent searchers hit pay dirt Monday with the discovery of the Deathly Hallows fragment on BitTorrent sites. The watermarked footage appears to come from a DVD screener sent out by the studio, although Warner Bros. would not confirm this.

Clip of the Day

Cisco on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6

Credit: TinyOgg

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources




Samba logo

We support

End software patents


GNU project


EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com

Recent Posts